Monday, October 21, 2013

Maruia Springs Part 2: Thermal Pools and Enchanted River Walk

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In our short stay at Maruia Springs, we managed to pack in so many tranquil experiences! 
We took ourselves out for an adventure along the river, stopping to look at the abundance of lychen, moss and occasional fungi growing atop the river stones. As we were high up in the Lewis Pass, it almost felt like you could touch the mountain tops. Looking up the valley, the highest peaks were dotted with snow and foggy clouds rolled in and out covering the mountain tops so you only caught a small glimpse at a time. 
The beech forest really felt like something out of a fairytale!  Green as far as the eye could see, moist and smelling of moss and earth. The forest was peaceful, wild and enchanting all in one. 
After tiring ourselves out with our whimsical walk along the riverbed, we spent our time relaxing in the hot pools. The water was pure and untreated full of sulphur, minerals and nutrient dens algae which did wonders for my skin and tense muscles. 
We also had a truly Japanese Experience with the traditional Onsen Japanese bath houses. One part of the resort has segregated bath houses for men and women (which you can see in the last picture). I loved the added little touches of tiny wooden stools and buckets. With the Onsen's many Japanese details, I felt like I was in magical bathhouse scene from Hayao Miyazaki's movie Spirited Away
And what a better way to finish off our magical weekend away with cooked breakfast in the restaurant peeping out through the lush green of beech trees. The first photo in this post shows this perfectly. Andrew waiting for his eggs, staring out through the big windows through green dappled light and beech leaves. That photo is one of my favourite moments that I've ever been able to capture photographically...it really sums up what a relaxing, contemplative and refreshing experience we shared.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Maruia Springs part 1: Our stay at a hidden Japanese Retreat

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In the midst of our chaotic uni/work/life schedules, Andrew and I decided on a whim to run away to Maruia Springs for a weekend. There is nothing better than being spontaneous and getting away from reality in the midst of routine and busyness!  
Maruia Springs is a Japanese style hot springs and resort seemingly in the middle of nowhere on the way to the west coast of New Zealand's south island. It is Maruia Spring's 'middle-of-nowhere-ness' that I love the most about it. We wound through the Lewis Pass through a never ending forest of native Beech trees until out of nowhere, popped up a small collection of buildings between the trees that you would miss if you blinked! 
We decided to go for an all inclusive package including a Japanese themed room, couples shiatsu massage, private spa, all hours access to the hot spring pools, complimentary kimono's, cooked breakfast and an incredible 3 course Japanese meal in their 5 star restaurant. It took all of our spare pennies to muster up such a treat- but it was something we desperately needed to do to restore our sanity!
We really did feel like we were far away from New Zealand high in the mountains of Japan. I have never felt so relaxed with all of the pampering, soaking and eating we got to do! Our 3 course meal was honestly one of the best meals I have eaten in my life! It was real authentic Japanese cuisine and they were fantastic at catering for my vegetarianism. I loved the 'agedashi tofu' so much, that it is now a weekly meal that I make myself at home (obviously nowhere near as good as theirs!).
I have more photo's of the hot springs, and the incredible landscape surrounding Maruia Springs to come- there was just too much beauty to photograph all around me!- So keep an eye out!
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